conversations with Uncle Bill and his wife, we mutually agreed that
meeting sooner rather than later would be desirable all round. To this
end, we all arranged to travel to Montreal, to spend a few days
brothers, their wives, and one sister and her husband, would travel from
Puvirnituq to Montreal. My wife and I would fly in from Kangirsuk and
join a sister who already works there to pre-position ourselves in
Montreal on January 28, 2006, for the arrival of Uncle Bill and Jess on
the following day, January 29. We planned to head home on Friday,
February 3, so our time together would be short. But we were all eager
to finally meet each other.
the Big Day, family members from Puvirnituq were prevented from
traveling by bad weather, and so missed the greeting of our uncle at the
airport. However, my wife Jeannie, my sister Talasia and I were at the
international arrivals area of Trudeau Airport in Dorval, along with
Heiko Wittenborn, a photographer friend whom I had asked to take
pictures of this historic meeting.
nerves were on edge as seemingly unending throngs of passengers streamed
out of the arrival area without any sign of Uncle Bill and Jess. But,
eventually they appeared. We had exchanged photographs by Internet and
mail, and all knew what we looked like, so appearances were no surprise
the time I saw definitive documents, which verified our Scottish roots
at the Aberdeen Town Registry, I had been carrying unexpressed emotions
related to the discovery. One of my concerns was the possibility of
emotions getting the better of me. When I finally met Uncle Bill, I was
amazed that the greeting turned out normal and joyous, as we shook hands
and briefly embraced. When Uncle Bill gave me a few gentle pats on the
back, I was placed in a state of what can be described in Inuktitut as
saimatsianiq, “great genuine contentment”.
During the ride from the hotel to the airport, Uncle Bill told me that
his father used to speak to him in Inuktitut. With the passage of many
decades since those times, he could not easily recall all the words.
But, he asked me to say the Inuktitut word for “sugar”. When I said,
“mamaqsautik”, he exclaimed, “That’s it!” That’s the word!”, as he
recognized the word his father used to call him. He also asked me to say
the word for the number, “one”. When I said, “atausiq”, he let
out another exclamation of recognition.
“Wow!”, I thought, “Code words in Inuktitut!” Here was a Scottish man,
having just flown in from across the ocean, sharing something he could
not possible be making up. What wonderful confirmation of a connection,
which had been outstanding for close to 80 years!